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Suicide and recency of health care contacts: A systematic review

  • Jane Pirkis (a1) and Philip Burgess (a2)

Many countries have set targets for suicide reduction, and suggested that mental health care providers and general practitioners have a key role to play.


A systematic review of the literature.


Among those in the general population who commit suicide, up to 41% may have contact with psychiatric inpatient care in the year prior to death and up to 9% may commit suicide within one day of discharge. The corresponding figures are 11 and 4% for community-based psychiatric care and 83 and 20% for general practitioners.


Among those who die by suicide, contact with health services is common before death. This is a necessary but not sufficient condition for clinicians to intervene. More work is needed to determine whether these people show characteristic patterns of care and/or particular risk factors which would enable a targeted approach to be developed to assist clinicians in detecting and managing high-risk patients.

Corresponding author
Jane Pirkis, Senior Research Fellow, Program Evaluation Unit, Centre for Health Program Evaluation. PO Box 477, West Heidelberg, Victoria 3081, Australia. Tel: +61 3 9496 4431; Fax: +61 3 9496 4424; e-mail:
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Suicide and recency of health care contacts: A systematic review

  • Jane Pirkis (a1) and Philip Burgess (a2)
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